Archive for the ‘IDW’ Category

Ahhhh, looks like a very good week for quality books. Some good stuff from the indies and Vertigo as well as an offering from Jeff Parker. Doesn’t get much better than this. Here’s what I’ll be buying come Wednesday:

Brave and the Bold #35
Chew #12
Daredevil #508 (Andy Diggle and if it is not BETTER than Shadowland #1, adios DD)
Daytripper #8
Doctor Who Magazine #423 (I need my Doctor Who fix dammit)
Gorilla Man #1 (Jeff Parker)
Hack/Slash: My First Maniac #2
Mystery Society #2
REBELS #18
The Unwritten #15

So, what are you getting this week?

J.

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Welcome to my look at what delights …or horrors….the Diamond catalogue has to offer us for comics due to ship in August. This column up till now has echoed a more positive view of the industry but its time to take the gloves off I think. And we’ll start with Marvel.

MARVEL COMICS

Shadowland: Moon Knight #1 (of 3)
$3.99
32 Pages
Page 43 of Marvel Previews

Last month I quit buying Brightest Day in despair at DC screwing up just after making their comics readable again last year. So I’m looking around to add a couple of titles and I’d been interested in jumping on board Andy Diggle’s Daredevil and Shadowland sounded quite interesting. So I’m checking through Previews and what do I see? Only Marvel doing what they did with Dark Reign and Siege and launching a whole heap of unnecessary one-shots and mini-series alongside the main Shadowland mini in yet another attempt to squeeze money out of comic fans. I’ve known loan sharks that were more subtle in their money gathering methods than Marvel.

If Shadowland had been a lean and mean mini-series running along with the Daredevil title then I would have given it a go but the minute I saw 4 mini-series and a one-shot all in one month the part of my mind that considered ordering Shadowland completely shut down and started blaring “fuck you Marvel” like a psychopathic air-raid siren. I know good writers like Diggle, Layman and Van Lente are involved but this ham-fisted method of trying to grow a Daredevil “Universe” just turned me off, especially with every comic at 3-fucking-99.

And to anyone that says “well the 40 pages includes a back up story”, I don’t fucking care, I want comics that are 32 pages for $2.99, every back-up I’ve read recently comics (except for the Question) has been shit and just went to prove that modern American comic book writers can’t write 6-10 page stories so don‘t even start with that justification.

Marvel Universe Vs The Punisher #1 & 2 (of 4)
$3.99
32 Pages
Page 57 of Marvel Previews

Well you know me, I like to balance out a crap comic and follow up with what should be a great one. Fresh from the surprise hit of Doomwar, Jonathan Maberry is back with a Marvel Knights book with the Punisher standing up for humanity after all the super-heroes have been turned into “sadistic cannibal predators” (is there any other type of cannibal predator?). Goran Parlov joins him on the book as artist, Parlov does great fight scenes and I like his work on Punisher Max even if Jason Aaron’s writing was a bit dumb. The only concern I have is that it’s 2 x $3.99 issues this month and next, which is a bit much. I may wait for the trade on this one .

New Mutants Forever #1
$3.99
40 Pages
Page 79 of Marvel Previews

This is the latest in what seems to be a regular “what if the fucking 1990’s never happened” series of comics that started with the so-so X-Men Forever and then the rather bloody good X-Factor Forever. So here we have the New Mutants pretty much where Claremont left off around 1990 or so. It’s got all the old favourite characters like Dani, Magma, Illyana, Warlock etc, …btw did any one else hate Whiny?…sorry I mean Rahne, damn I just couldn’t stand her character, she was such a whingebag.

Al Rio is on art on this 5 issue mini-series and he’s pretty decent, he’s well known for his good-girl art, he’s kind of like Frank Cho but without that special zing that Cho has. I’ll probably end up chickening out of ordering this one and wait for the trade as Chris Claremont hasn’t written a good comic book in about 15 years so I’ll probably wait for others to review this one first. Still if it is good I’ll be really happy as New Mutants was one of the first American comics I ever bought.

Conclusion:

It’s a real mixed bag from Marvel, the usual good stuff like Atlas, Fantastic Four, Shield, Secret Avengers plus some promising New stuff like Marvel Universe vs. the Punisher, New Mutants Forever and Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet (Brian Clevinger of Atomic Robo) along with a whole heap of meh (pretty much the whole X-Universe, The Ultimate Universe and anything with Wolverine in it fits into that category. Marvel’s pricing policies leave me confused as usual, tbh I think Stephen Hawking would struggle to figure out Marvel’s pricing structure but while they continue to mess about I’ll continue to be skeptical about how much they give a shit about the fans and the stories.

DC

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #1
32 pages
$3.99
Page 72 of Previews

32 pages for $3.99?
Fuck
You
DC

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5
40 pages
$3.99
Page 80 of Previews

I’ve read parts 1 and 2 of this and they were ok, not great, not terrible….which is more than you can say about a few DC books the last couple of months. The reason I’m picking this book out is Ryan Sook is on penciling duties and his artwork has improved so much in the last couple of years, he’s an outstanding talent.

Superman: Earth One HC
136 Pages
$19.99
Page 68 of Previews

For a while its been said that DC were going to launch a line of stand alone hardcover graphic novels for its Earth One continuity as a sort of Ultimate Universe or in effect what the All-Star books should have been until Frank Miller completely ruined that line with his “goddam” Batman. JMS and Shane Davis team up to re-tell the origin of Superman in a modern-day context rather than in the 1930’s. Shane Davis art does look pretty sweet and JMS writing for DC has so far been great on Brave and Bold so it might be worth a shot. $19.99 might seem daunting but you can get this at big discounts if you look hard enough.

DC Universe Legacies #4
40 pages
$3.99
Page 92 of Previews

I got issue #1 of Legacies this month and if I’m honest I’d actually forgotten that I’d ordered it. I had read maybe one Len Wein comic in my whole life so I didn’t have many expectations so that’s maybe why I was pleasantly surprised by it. The story is told in a slightly old fashioned way and by that I mean its unlike the decompressed shit that the likes of Millar and Loeb foist on the market and people proclaim them as the best comixz evar! Its also probably why only 3 people and a dog bought this comic but I think its one of the sleeper hits of the year so far. Issue #4 covers the 60’s and especially the Nick Cardy era Teen Titans which I love and even better…..the art is by JOSE LUIS GARCIA-LOPEZ and DAVE GIBBONS.

Conclusion:

An odd and confusing month for DC, one gets the feeling that DC editorial is pulling in several different directions at one. The grim n’gritty copy Marvel brigade has Brightest Day, Titans and $3.99 32 page books and the more sensible side has JMS, Len Wein and Garcia-Lopez. There’s some great stuff coming out from DC…with equal amounts of insultingly bad comics…interesting times.

INDEPENTENTS

Bokurano Ours Vol 2
Publisher: Viz Media
216 pages
$12.99
Page 329 of Previews

Since DC has delivered some awful atrocities masquerading as comics lately I’ve cut back on them and freed up some budget for manga and this is one I identified as being something interesting. It has a similar premise to Shadow Star (from Dark Horse) where a group of kids are being used by shadowy forces, in this case 15 kids are being used to control a huge mecha that battles gigantic alien monsters, it has some resonance with Evangelion as well. I’ve read the first chapter online and it was good stuff, roll on Vol 2.

Last Days of American Crime #3 (of 3)
Publisher: Radical Publishing
56 pages
$4.99
Page 313 of Previews

Issue 2 arrived this month after being horribly late so issue 3 may well be late too but it is very much worth it. The heist story to end all heist stories….literally… by Rick Remender is real edge of the seat stuff and the art by Greg Tocchini is beautiful and gritty at the same time. Either pick up the individual issues which are pretty much graphic novels for the same price that Marvel asks for its slipshod annuals or wait for the trade collection but make sure you get this book.

Also Radical puts out 24 page previews of upcoming series every month, this time around its Mata Hari by Roy Allan Martinez, you can’t lose at that price.

Guardians of the Globe #1 (of 6)
Publisher: Image Comics
32 Pages
$3.50
Page 168 of Previews

A super team from the pages of Invincible written by Robert Kirkman? Just order this comic already for gruds sake! Benito Cerino co-writes (I guess Kirkman does have to sleep) with art by Ransom Getty. Did I say order this already?

Dungeons and Dragons #0
Publisher: IDW
24 pages
$1.00

IDW has gotten the franchise for Dungeons and Dragons from DDP who didn’t do a great job with it and overpriced their trades, but I expect IDW will do a better job. I’m a bit of a sucker for D&D stuff after the classic 1980’s cartoon which I loved and I played AD&D briefly when I was a teenager so this will probably bring back pleasant memories and at $1.00 for a taster issue you can’t really go wrong. The art is by Andrea Di Vito who is pretty damn good

Conclusion:

For the second month running, the Indies are putting out the more interesting new (or newish) series while with Marvel and DC trying to find good new series is tough work at the moment. Magnus Robot Fighter from Dark Horse almost made my list but I’m not a huge fan of artist Bill Reinhold. IDW and Radical continue as two of my current favourite publishers although Boom and Archaia don’t really have anything new this month.

Welcome to my monthly voyage through the Previews catalogue which has finally winged its way through volcanic clouds of ash to my home in Latveria. For the first, and definitely not the last time, the Indies get first go:

INDEPENDENTS

Strange Science Fantasy #1
Publisher: IDW
$3.99
32 Pages
Page 151 of Previews

It’s IDW’s first time in the hallowed halls of front part of the Previews catalogue where they get more space to show their wares. Once you get past all the licensed stuff you get to the 3 or 4 original series and they usually are pretty decent. This month my eye was caught (and pummeled) by Strange Science Fantasy which promises to be “Six issues of retro-crazy pure comics storytelling”. Scott Morse writes and draws the stories, his art style is like Kirby/Ditko era art with an impressionist slant and is really appealing. The stories are done-in-ones and there’s a bonus Paul Pope backup strip page as well. I think this could turn out to be one of the most fun comics of the year.

Also on the same page of Previews is Richard Stark’s Parker: The Man with the Getaway Face which is a prelude to Darwyn Cooke’s next graphic novel which is the sequel to The Hunter which Cooke brought out to acclaim from IDW last year. This is basically an issue 0 for the new graphic novel and it has 24 pages of Darwyn Cooke, do I really need to say more?

Life With Archie: The Married Life #1
Publisher: Archie Comics
$3.99
56 pages
Page 228 of Previews

You probably think I’m joking or perhaps you think I’ve finally gone insane (finally?) but no, I’m picking an Archie comic as one of my picks from the catalogue this month. Actually when I say comic, this is actually a large format magazine size rather than a normal sized comic. The writing is by film producer Michael Uslan and the art team is….get this….Norm Breyfogle, Andrew Pepoy and Joe Rubenstein, now that’s a good team and no mistake. This magazine is a follow up to the successful Archie proposes series that Archie just brought out, this mag has two stories, one where Archie has married Veronica and the other where Archie has married Betty and shows what his life would be like with either. Finally a comic that not only shows one marriage but two! Take that and suck it up Joey Q!

Time Bomb #1 (of 3)
Publisher: Radical Publishing
56 Pages
$4.99
Page 324 of Previews

This is a time travel thriller written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (Jonah Hex, Power Girl etc) with art by the great Paul Gulacy. A crack team of commandos has to go back in time to Nazi Germany to stop a bomb from going off underneath Berlin and destroying all of mankind. There are some samples of the art on Paul Gulacy’s site, it looks like being an intense adventure comic.

One of the reasons I like Radical Publishing is that they really try and sell you their books, the promotional material they have is streets ahead of any of the other non big-two companies. Driver for the Dead by John Heffernan with art by Leonardo Manco looks like being good too but I’m at the edge of my budget at the moment.

Bakuman Vol #1
Publisher: Viz Media
208 pages
$9.99
Page 350 of Previews

I’ve been wanting to pick up some new manga for ages but with the demise of the manga magazines a few years ago its harder to just try something out, $10 is a lot to take a hunch on something….plus there’s that fucking having to read the thing backwards. I wish they’d go back to flipping manga…but that’s another story. Bakuman is by the “Death Note” team of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata so you know it has a quality pedigree. This is a different type of book (creators aren’t typecast so easily in Japan thankfully), this is about a pair of teenagers who set out to create their own manga and have it published professionally. This is the story of the scrapes that they get into and its reputed to be very funny. I’ve also started getting Biomega and Gantz and perhaps I’ll go into that further in my next Rants and Raves column.

Conclusions:
An interesting and varied month for the smaller companies, other books to watch out for are Invincible #75 and Walking Dead #75 by Kirkman et al from Image and the new volume of Scott Pilgrim is out from Oni Press which is the series finale. Books to avoid like the plague are Brigade #2 from Image and Doctor Solar from Dark Horse which bored the hell out of me in its FCBD issue.

DC COMICS

Batman Odyssey #1
40 pages
$3.99
Page 78 of Previews

A Batman series drawn by Neal Adams? You know this is going to be a beautiful book however its also written by Neal Adams and I’m not familiar with his writing so it could be great or it might not At least it’ll look good though!. This is the first part of a 6 issue mini-series and Adams can be kind of slow so this book might well end up being late, it might be better to trade wait this one.

Superman #701
32 pages
$2.99
Page 84 of Previews

J. Michael Strazechninaskizzzzi takes over the Superman book properly and hopefully he’ll get this book back on track. The New Krypton stuff started off well but really tailed off quite badly and had a pretty unsatisfactory ending so I’m hoping that JMS can do for this book what he did for the Thor series, start telling good honest no-bullshit enjoyable stories. I wish they’d get him a better artist than Eddy Barrows though, while he’s not horrible he’s just not inspiring in any way. Paul Cornell is taking over Action Comics in July as well, with Pete Woods on art. While I’ve liked Cornell’s Marvel stuff he’s starting out with Lex Luthor beginning an epic quest for power which made me sigh as Lex Luthor bores the living fuck out of me at this stage, can they not use someone that’s not been used a million times before?

Wonder Woman #601
32 Pages
$2.99
Page 97 of Previews

JMS takes over properly on Wonder Woman and again I’m hoping that JMS takes this book to the heights that it really deserves as befitting the most important female character in superhero comics (no offence to Gail Simone as she did a good job but JMS just has a bigger cachet at the moment). Unfortunately I’m not a big fan of Don Kramer’s art, I don’t know why DC aren’t pairing JMS with their top talent but who knows maybe Kramer can surprise me.

Conclusion:
As you can see, I wasn’t exactly inspired by DC this month. Really if it wasn’t for JMS they wouldn’t have any new offerings that really interest me. The stuff that they’ve been doing well (REBELS, GL, GLC, Flash, Doom Patrol) are still there but the rose is starting to fall from the vine as it were. I have a sinking feeling that DC are going to blow all the good will they built up from Blackest Night. The whole Ryan Choi thing just pisses me off so much and then there’s the disaster that is First Wave, The Spirit and Doc Savage are very disappointing. Verdict?: Must do better!

MARVEL

X-Men #1
40 Pages
$3.99

Give.
Me.
A.
Fucking.
Break.

X-Women #1
64 Pages
$4.99

This comic has been in the works for a zillion years but finally its here. This is an (allegedly) Prestige Format tale of the X-Women saving the world. Its written by Chris Claremont and its drawn by Milo Manara. The fact its drawn by Manara should be enough to get you to buy this comic, he draws some of the most beautiful comic book women of all time.

Casanova #1
40 pages
$3.99

This is a book with Win written all over it, Matt Fraction plus Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon on Casanova, this should be epic. There really isn’t much more to say about this except to mention that if you don’t buy this book I will personally break your legs.

Gorilla Man #1
40 pages
$3.99

First Marvel canceled Agents of Atlas, now they seem to be really in love with Jeff Parker, it’s really bizarre but better to ride the roller coaster and support a good writer than just accept the usual bendis-loeb shite. This as the title would indicate is about Gorilla-Man, more precisely it’s his history and origin. He’s probably my favourite AOA member so this is an easy choice

Conclusion:
It’s the usual story with Marvel, some gems amongst all the dross. They do seem to be wising up a little bit regarding 40 pages for $3.99 although we still have to see what quality those extra pages are. I’d prefer 32 pages for $2.99, the extra pages just usually aren’t worth the money. Also, how in hell could someone start getting into the X-Universe these days? There is just so much being published and a lot of it is a confused mess. There should be a maximum of 5 X-Comics, no more, not even mini-series. If they concentrated on 4 or 5 X-titles and made them as good as possible it would do a lot for the industry because there’s a lot of residual love for the X-Men/X-Factor/New Mutants but the current X-titles are impenetrable.

Welcome back to my semi-regular column about the stuff that caught my interest in the last week or two.

RANTS

I’ve been known to rant a bit and today is no exception. There are a number of things that irk me about blogs and message boards and one of the things that bugs me to no end is when a new writer is announced for a book how people start fretting about what he (or she) is going to do the character(s) in that book.

And this is months and months before a book is even printed mind you. Reams and reams of idle speculation is launched with all kinds of irrational ideas that they heard from someone or that a so-called “inside source” has leaked or whatever. Now I do realise that this is something that happens all the time but it does not mean that it is right. When I want to speculate I prefer to do so with at least some concrete factual information.

Take for example the speculation over what JMS would do with the Wonder Woman and Superman books, people worrying and getting inflamed with very little basis.  A whole thread on Bleeding Cool wandered about like a spastic dinosaur until JMS had to come on and quash stupid ideas like Superman wandering across America like Jack Kerouac or Kaine in the series Kung Fu. I’m going to reprint what JMS said on that thread just in case anyone didn’t get it.

“I wish to make several points very very clear.

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that I have at any time had any conversations at all with DC about Marc Guggenheim.

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that I insisted “that Superman only appear in the Superman book he’s writing.”

I have made every indication to DC that as and when Superman is needed during the time I am writing him, he will definitely be made available. You simply can’t keep a character as major as Superman out of every title for the length of my initial run. It’s impossible, and the idea that we could or would try is absurd.

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that Superman is “going to drop his Superman identity.”

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that he “not use his powers.”

So to those who have reacted (properly) to say that these are stupid ideas, you are absolutely right.

They are stupid.

Which is why we are not, have not been, and will not be doing any of them.

The only stupidity greater than those lay in the suggestion that we ever would.”

So there you go, from the horses mouth as it were. Speculation is fun, but please, it is better to do it where its based on facts.

…Except of course when it comes to Bendis, Loeb and Millar where its better to think the worst. The worst will probably happen but at least you’ll be prepared for it!

JMS on the other hand is a writer with more hits than misses so I think he’s worth the benefit of the doubt.

The DC Implosion

Back in the late 70’s DC canceled a couple of dozen of their poorer selling titles due to the bad economy of the time and other factors. This became known as the DC Implosion as it drastically reduced the amount of content that they were publishing.

Just in the last month DC have canceled the Red Circle titles, The Web and The Shield, they’ve canceled one of my favourite titles, The Warlord, and they’ve canceled The Great Ten (as of issue 9, so they are canceling a 10 issue series with one issue to go, great planning eh?)

It seems like its no coincidence that a new management and editorial team have come in and not long after a bunch of titles get canceled. So who’s going to be next then?

Based on the sales charts, titles like Magog, Wildcats, Authority, REBELS (keep spreading the word on this title!), Doom Patrol and Batman Confidential have cause to be worried. Johnny DC titles will be ok as they mainly sell at supermarkets and newsstands and most Vertigo titles should be ok as they do big business in the Trade Paperback market.

The DC Explosion

Another story that came out recently was that DC were looking to expand their range of output in order to compete equally with Marvel on the comics racks and to take market share off of Marvel. Word was put out that it was a good time for freelancers to approach DC for work as a rapid growth was foreseen.

So, considering my previous rant about the current DC mini-implosion, what exactly are DC going to publish in order to ramp up their market share. It looks as if anything they publish that’s quirky (Warlord, Doom Patrol) or non DCU-centric (Red Circle characters, possibly the First Wave characters) have weak sales potential.

What are your bets on what DC is going to do, will it be extra Batman (and surely there’s more than enough already!), more Superman, more Flash and we know that there is at least 1 more Green Lantern title on the way. Just what franchises can DC mine to increase their production? Personally I can’t see where long term growth is going to come from.

The Amazing Spectacular Amazing Spider-Man Price Increase

You didn’t think I was gonna go a whole column without laying into Marvel over something right? One thing I noticed from last months Marvel Previews magazine is that Amazing Spider-Man comic has gone up in price to $3.99.  They are gone up to 40 pages though with a 2 page Spidey Sunday story and a Kraven back up story but still, if you want to follow the main Spidey comic now you need to shell out 12 clams a month whereas just a couple of years ago you only needed to buy 1 issue of Amazing for $2.99 a month. Marvel seems to be out to exploit every segment of their fan base these days.

It used to be great back when you could buy 1 Avengers Comic, 1 X-Men comic, 1 Spidey comic and you didn’t need to buy 4 or 5 of each a month. No wonder smaller titles can’t get an audience now…

How does your nose get so brown?

Well if you shove it this far up Jeph Loeb’s arse your nose would be brown too, just take a look at this video (oh and keep the sick bucket near by in case you upchuck).

COMICS CAPSULE REVIEWS

Milestone Forever #2

I’d love to say that this comic got better with the second issue but I just can’t. As with the first issue the cover is horrible and the packaging and design is terrible, I can’t believe that Rian Hughes designed this thing. I did figure out what made me uneasy about the first issue though and it was that these two books felt more like shout-outs to old Milestone fans rather than something that could bring new readers into the fold.

After 2 expensive prestige format issues, I still don’t really know who Icon, Hardware, Static and the rest are, what their powers are or anything about their personalities. That’s a pretty bad indictment for any book. Regarding the art, Jean Paul Leon doing the framing sequence was good again and Denys Cowan and ChrisCross both did decent jobs on their sequences.

Brave and the Bold #32

After sledging a comic I like to follow up with a book I like, it freshens the soul or something, I dunno. Anyhoo, B&B 32 features Aquaman and The Demon teaming up against some underwater demons from hell…or thereabouts. After a Joker/Atom team-up that rather misfired this comic was satisfying on a number of notes. JMS had a handle on both characters, so much so that I’d like to seem him do solo books for either character….or at least backup features in either of his new books. Aquaman does much of the work carrying this issue with the Demon mostly standing around spouting rhyming couplets until the ending where he KABLAMMO’S the invading demon.

Jesus Saiz does another beautiful job on this issue, he’s rapidly becoming one of my favourite artists, he has sort of a Ryan Sook mixed with John Buscema quality, there’s a lovely sequence of Aquaman fighting a shark/demon on page 9 that works so well in its power and movement. Also the splash page of Aquaman backed up by thousands of whales, sharks and every other type of sea creature took my breath away. One of the best books of the month easily.

JLA #43

This is the tie in to the Rise and Fall of Arsenal that documents the post Cry for Justice JLA continuity. It was ok, certainly an improvement on the direness of the Blackest Night issues. Mark Bagley’s art is certainly better, especially pages that seem to be inked by Norm Rapmund. The main problem with this is too-many-character-itis , I count at least 14 members which means that no-one gets any face time, except for Ollie who we learn likes curry, no not Arthur Curry, the Indian chicken tikka sort of curry.

One thing that does really annoy me about DC though… and this sounds like a contradiction of the last point I made….but DC editors obviously tell writers they can use characters and then 2 issues they take the fucking characters away because they’re in another book. This completely ruined McDuffie’s run and its affecting Robinsons already. This issue Starfire zoomed off to join the REBELS, why couldn’t she just be in the 2 books, who the fuck cares much about continuity that a character can‘t be in 2 fucking books?

ZVR Aventure #1 and #2

Another Zombie book? Well yes it is but it’s the continuation of Ashley Wood’s Zombies versus Robots world, this time in the form of a 4 issue anthology book.  Each issue has 3 eight page stories which continue from one issue to the next. Ashley Wood does the (amazing) covers and Chris Ryall writes all the stories.

The first adventure has Sgt Davis organising resistance to the zombie horde in a New York-esque city, the art is by Menton Matthews III and is a strange heavily photoshopped type of art. The second story is about a remote testing facility where the cook is the only person left alive and pilots an early Iron Man type costume/robot while trying to survive another horde, the art by Paul McCaffrey which is reminiscent of Juan Gimenez’s style. The last story has art by Gabriel Hernandez which shows voodoo Zombies fighting normal zombies in Haiti. This is a great book for horror/aventure fans and considering the card cover and heavy quality paper its probably worth the $3.99

Echo #20

I never hear this book mentioned anywhere but it’s a consistently enjoyable tale by Terry Moore. The main story is about a young woman called Julie who unexpectedly encounters a disastrous military test and gets part of her body covered by a strange living metal. She is forced to go on the run from the government and the company behind the making of the living metal who send various assassins and maniacs after her. The black and white art by Moore is detailed yet simple and elegant and the characterisation as one would expect is top notch. What I didn’t expect is the constant tension because you feel none of these characters is safe.

Superman: Last Stand on New Krypton #1

The New Krypton arc that’s dominated the Superman books for over a year is coming to an end, but this is a bit of a confusing mess. Brainiac invades New Krypton in a stupid looking gigantic robot head, cue thousands of killer robots invading New Krypton and we get page after page of Kryptonians fighting robots….yada yada yada. The art from Pete Woods looks rushed, some of the writing just makes no sense like Zod arresting the Legion of Superheroes who are trying to help, perhaps this is a double bluff by Zod but it just seems like brain-numbingly stupid writing to me. This book isn’t terrible but I wouldn’t heartily recommend it either.

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed #1

Lets end the reviews on a high note,  the Pet Avengers was one of the best unexpected surprise hits of last year and I’m happy to say that this first issue of the new mini series carries on the charm of last years series. The Hairball/Ms. Lion duo is hilarious again and the art by Ig Guara and the colours by Sotomayor and Roberts is beautiful, really great work. This issue sets up the series when the rest of the Pet Avengers discover that Frog Thor is missing from Central Park.

BACK ISSUE BIN

Vlad the Impaler #1-3 (Topps comics, 1993)

This is a 3 issue mini-series from Topps short-lived foray into comics. Topps were more known for baseball cards but decided to get in on the act during the comics boom of the early 90’s. Unfortunately for them they got their strategy wrong, they decided to put out well written and drawn comics when what the market was looking for was badly written and appallingly drawn crap like Youngblood.  Vlad the Impaler was an excellent little 3 issue mini-series detailing the savage life of Prince Vlad Tepes of Transylvania and his eventual turning into Vlad Dracula.

Roy Thomas wrote it and did a great job worthy of his best Savage Sword of Conan work, and the art by Esteban Maroto is truly stunning. Even after 17 years this is a comic that I still cherish, it just reeks of quality.  The lettering by John Costanza adds greatly to the atmosphere and the colouring by Paul Mounts is sumptuous adding to the sense of baroque horror. I’ve checked online and these issues can be found for $2 each, an incredible bargain and certainly better than most comics out now.

BLOG RECOMMENDATIONS

Dark Roasted Blend
http://www.darkroastedblend.com/

This is a blog that I’ve been visiting for years, there is always something there to occupy the mind or the eyes whether it is hallucinatory architecture or sperm-racing. It also feeds my love for retro-futurism.

PostRock Xchange
http://www.postrockxchange.com/

This is another blog I visit heavily. Post Rock is a form of instrumental rock music that generally doesn’t conform to the normal rock music song structures. In general its more mellow but it can’t be incredibly intense also. This blog has LOTS of great music, some of my current favourites are Mooncake and 65daysofstatic.

TV

It was Christina Hendricks’ birthday this week so what better way to celebrate than with a video in honour of her!

This is the first of what will hopefully be a weekly column about my thoughts on the week in comics and related stuff. It will be made up of mini op-ed pieces (don’t worry I will still be doing in depth op-ed pieces every so often), plus some mini-reviews of comics read during the week, some blog recommendations, maybe a book review here and there too.

*RANTS!

1. Last week the Kirby family filed suit against Marvel for termination of copyrights and compensation for lack of credit in films for characters co-created by Jack Kirby. I did an op-ed piece on this a couple of months ago, you can read it here. My views since then haven’t changed one iota, Jack Kirby was Marvel comics dynamo and it’s time that his pride and joy, his family, get the rewards that he was due but never received.

My admiration for the King is not secret so I will unashamedly cheer on the Kirby family to their victory. So what will it mean for the characters in question? Well, Marvel will have to stop publishing the current versions and the family will be able to sell them to DC…..Actually the only people who think that might happen are retarded fanboys who have no clue about copyright law. What will happen is that Marvel will give a big settlement to the Kirby’s and pay royalties for future use.

Hopefully that will open the door for other writers/artists or their families to get their dues also, lets not forget other creators like Bill Everett, Don Heck, Steve Ditko and the rest.

2. Remember my other Op-ed piece about Captain America: Reborn? Well in case anyone thought there was no substance about my accusations against Hitch, just take a look at his art agent’s page. Big splash pages are going for $2000+ whereas “crappy” story pages only go for about $250, a pretty big incentive for him to throw the writer under the bus, eh?

3. Palmiotti and Gray aren’t writing Power Girl anymore and they replace them with Judd Winick??? Sorry but I fucking hate that guy’s writing, expect this book to turn into a train wreck. They should have given the book to Keith Giffen, then it might have continued to be Bwa-ha-ha funny, bad choice DC!

4. Dark Avengers #15, oh you better believe I fucking hate this book with a vengeance. I agree with Jose’s Op-ed piece 1000%, I’ll be doing an Op-ed piece of my own on related matters in the upcoming future but something did strike me when I was reading about the descriptions of Ultimate Comics Avengers #5 and Justice League: Cry for Justice #7…it’s a quote from the description of part of the Battle for Warsaw in 1944 between the SS and the polish resistance (I’m a bit of a history buff btw) which went as follows : “Favoured tactics during the siege reportedly included playing “bayonet catch” with live babies, and torturing captives to death by hacking off their arms, dousing them with gasoline, and setting them alight to run armless and flaming down the streets of Warsaw.” I guess now we get to read about this stuff happening to our favourite heroes now, what’s the world coming to?

5. Goddamn Kick-Ass trailers are on the tv here all the fucking time, there are even posters up on billboards for it, there is no way in hell that I will be going to see that piece of shit and if you have any taste at all you won’t be giving money to that ginger hack Millar.

6. IDW have been promoted by Diamond Comic Distributors to be one of their Premier Publishers which means that they will be out of the back section of Previews magazine and moved up to the front with Dark Horse, DC and Image (Marvel have their own separate Previews comic-sized magazine). They will have much more room to display their products, instead of being squeezed into the current 12 or so pages they will have up to 40 pages to display their wares and be able to promote their comics much better.

I recently previewed one of their comics, Mystery Society, and they normally have a knack of producing interesting comics along with their normal licensed stuff like GI Joe and Transformers. How long till Boom Studios make the transition to Premier Publisher status?

BTW anyone ever notice how much Robert Kirkman looks like Hacksaw Jim Duggan?

*COMIC MINI-REVIEWS

These are some reviews on comics I’ve read so far this week. I get my comics via mail order in one or two packages a month so these won’t be “new” comics per se but they are recent. I’ll be trying to mention ones that Jose, Elliot and Ironmuskrat don’t get around to doing full reviews on.

Justice Society of America #34 and #35
If you want a comic that tells good superhero stories without babies being thrown out of windows or rapes then this should be a comic for you. Swipes at Millar and Bendis aside, I really enjoyed these comics. The newly split JSA fought against Mordru, he sent them all into pocket dimensions where they faced their greatest fears then teamed back up to kick ass. This served to reintroduce the characters and bind them together, I think these issues would be a great jumping on point for new readers. The only minor niggle would be with fill in artist Travis Moore who can be a little weak with getting faces right but otherwise did a good job while Jesus Merino catches up.

Fantastic Four #576
This is the second issue of the Prime Elements arc and this story is just sumptuous. From Dale Eaglesham’s art which is reminiscent of Big John Buscema’s classic art to Paul Mounts gorgeous colours, this is just a feast for the eyes. As for Jonathan Hickman’s writing, well only half a dozen issues in and its already got the makings of a classic run up there with John Byrnes mid-80’s stuff, Walt Simonson’s underrated early 90’s run and Waid and Ringo’s epic run of the early noughties (nothing will ever beat Lee/Kirby of course). This episode the team goes under the Antarctic Ice cap to meet an unknown aquatic civilization, Hickman just throwing new ideas out on every few pages.

Outsiders #26 and #27
From the sublime to the ridiculous, Dan Didio takes over from Pete Tomasi and makes a complete dogs dinner of this comic. I really enjoyed Tomasi’s take on the team, which actually made sense but Didio has thrown out all the set up from that run and shipped the team off to Markovia where Brion has made peace with the Kryptonians who send the freakin Eradicator to be their peace envoy….can’t see any trouble with that can you?

I’m not criticising this book because I hate Dan Didio, I actually think he’s done a good job with DC editorial in the last year but unfortunately he’s just a terrible writer, these are only worth getting to laugh at how out of character everyone is and how ham fistedly every situation is handled, case in point being the cringe worthy advances of Owl Man towards Katana. Its not offensive in the same way as a Bendis or Millar comic is, just really poorly written and drawn.

Milestone Forever #1
This I guess is the formal reintroduction of the Milestone characters after the JLA arc of just over a year ago. The first thing that strikes me is the hideous cover on this, apparently DC editorial changed the cover and put this purple wash over the art, there’s no way that I would pick this off the shelf if I didn’t know what it was first, it looks so horrible. The first 8 pages of art by Jean Paul Leon though were very enjoyable, they reminded me of the Kirbyesque art of Shaky Kane.

The rest of the (expensive prestige format) issue was by MD Bright and Romeo Tanghal and sorry to say it but the art was so nineties that it hurt. And so to be honest so was the writing, considering they had 48 pages to work with I couldn’t tell you much more about the characters now than before I read it and that wasn’t much to start with.

Tails of the Pet Avengers #1
This is an anthology of Pet Avengers stories leading up to next months second Pet Avengers mini-series. Each of the pets gets a 5/6 page story which adds up to 30 pages of story/art for $3.99, not a bad deal. The stories range from the cute (Lockjaw) to the poignant (Lockheed) but as always Ms Lion and Frog Thor stole the show, Ms Lion doing some detective work on a cruise ship and the great Frog Thor leading his frogs in a fight against some alligators who were trying to invade their pond in Central Park. Nice writing and art by Chris Eliopoulous, Colleen Coover, Ig Guara, Gurihiro and more, this is truly a comic for all ages and a great break from all the angst-ridden ultra violence that seems to be popular amongst the fanboys now.

*BACK ISSUE BIN

DC Holiday Special ‘09
This came out back in November/December of last year, 80 pages for $5.99 with a Christmas/holiday theme. I don’t think this sold huge numbers, certainly not in the direct market anyway, which is a pity because its actually really good, it will probably be dirt cheap as a back issue.

Its worth tracking this down in the back issue bins of your LCS or Cons for the Sgt Rock story by Billy Tucci alone. Added to that are great short stories of Enemy Ace, Red Tornado, Flash, Batman and Martian Manhunter plus there’s an Angel and the Ape story so you can’t say no to that!

*BLOG RECOMMENDATIONS

Perhaps like me you visit blogs other than the CCW one (I know, it’s a shock isn’t it?) Perhaps you too have idle time to fill at work, I know I do! So every column I’d like to recommend one or two I like, if you’ve got favourites then by all means let us know!

Grantbrigde Street and Other Adventures
http://grantbridgestreet.blogspot.com/
I just love this blog, its got loads of stuff I’m interested in from the 60’s to the 90’s, obscure comic strips from the greats like Romita, Kirby, Toth, Charest, Ditko, Buscema, art gallery’s of favourite characters like Doctor Doom, Catwoman, Superman etc. Its got Superhero’s, bizarre sci-fi, horror comics, freaked out shit and lost comic strips like the great Brendan McCarthy’s Sooner or Later, a beautiful Daniel Torres’ story , some great Phillip Druillet art and what about this amazing crazy piece by The King!

Pats Fantasy Hotlist
http://fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com/
This is another blog that I go to practically everyday as in addition to comics I’ve loved reading fantasy and sci-fi books for years and have really gotten back into reading novels in the last couple of years (Amazon is just so dirt cheap lol). Pats Fantasy Hotlist is easily the most popular F&SF literary blog out there because its accessible, down to earth (you know what I mean), and pretty easy going, somewhat like the CCW except not quite as community led as the CCW.

The content is consistently solid with writer interviews, excerpts from newly released and upcoming books (important if you’re undecided on what to read next), new Cover art and contests where you can win free books. If you like to read then this blog is worth checking.

*TV

I’m not going to comment too much on TV as I’m way behind on what is being currently shown in America, I just can’t be bothered downloading tv stuff now. One series I’ve enjoyed for years though is Mad Men, the story of advertising executives in 1960’s Manhattan, the scripts are witty, the styling is spot on and they’ve got Christina Hendricks, hubba hubba! This is my favourite scene from the current series, Season 3.

Ok, that’s it for this week, I hope you enjoyed it, let me know your opinions. See you next week for more!